Kyiv’s club and rave scene is young, raw and ambitious. Similar to Berlin, clubs stay open from Saturday evening until Monday morning. However as a relatively young scene, clubs are not packed from beginning until end, and afterhours are not yet a big thing. Olha Korovina and her boyfriend Jean-Philippe Doho want to change the game with their new ‘intense, eclectic and free’ afterhour concept named ‘Drift’. We talk about their love baby; meeting each other in club ∄ on New Years Eve; why after hours are important to make the local scene grow and about their ambitions to continue building with Kyiv’s scene.
Ukraine’s scene is booming. In 2016, i-D released a documentary about Ukraine’s underground rave revolution. The documentary is about ‘Cxema’, a Kyiv-based collective that organized raves in post-industrial locations right after the Euromaidan revolution. Ever since, the city’s scene has gained international attention. Yet it was with the opening of club ∄ (mathematical symbol for: ‘does not exist’), also named Kyrylivska 41 or K41, in November 2019, that Kyiv became wildly popular. Located in a former brewery, the club as well as the professional and friendly crew surrounding it, have become popular amongst many DJ’s in the scene. Some of which now name it one of their favourite places in the world.
The scene is growing rapidly. It’s however relatively new to the city to have clubs that stay open from Saturday evening until Monday morning. As a result, parties are not yet fully packed from beginning until end and afterhours are not yet a big thing.
That’s something Olha and Jean-Philippe wish to change with their new community based event and platform for talent named ‘Drift’. The event series was born on New Years Eve, when Olha and Jean-Philippe met each other in club ∄. ‘I came from Berlin by airplane with a big group of friends to visit K41,’ Jean-Philippe explains, ‘that’s where I met Olha.’
Jean-Philippe and Olha
After having lived in London for the past four years, performer, DJ and co-founder Olha, moved back to Kyiv. ‘I visited K41 almost every weekend,’ Olha explains, ‘back then the club closed on Sunday afternoon and there was never really a good afterparty. Until I met JP and we decided to create one ourselves.’
‘When we met and talked about it, we both felt something was missing, Jean-Philippe explains. ‘Olha and I both lived in other cities and we’re used to spending more time in the club or at an afterhour. In Kyiv that’s different, people go home early in the morning. But it’s usually in those early hours where you sit down to have a conversation with someone, as it’s difficult to have a good conversation when everyone’s dancing.’
‘’It’s in these moments where you get to meet other creatives and get the chance to collaborate outside of parties. Those are important to make our scene grow.’’
‘We thought about how nice it would be to have a space where we could keep on partying, listen to music, have local and international friends over, meet new people, chat, dance, play ourselves; to really create a community. That’s when we decided to create Drift, so you can go straight from the club to our event.’
Drift’s first event was in March 2021. Olha and Jean-Philippe have since organized 6 raves, one of which together with collective ‘Svora’ in a warehouse in Odessa. Its mainbase however is the industrial venue of Keller. ‘The venue is perfect for our event,’ Olha says. ‘You can chill at the bar, go to the upstairs chill area or visit the basement where we have an amazing sound system.’
Collaboration and building bridges are key for Drift. ‘Our event is all about meeting new people,’ Jean-Philippe explains. ‘There’s a lot of interesting and creative people in our crowd. You’ll find amazing photographers, people working in fashion, DJ’s, designers. When we have international visitors, they love to mix and collaborate with them. The result of this is a genuine, beautiful energy, where bridges are being built. That’s why an afterhour concept is such a good idea.’
Olha and Jean-Philippe are also exploring to build bridges and merge with other communities in Kyiv. ‘It’s important for our scene to grow,’ Olha says. ‘We can only do so by collaborating and supporting each other. That’s why we try to invite other crews, clubs and collectives to our events. When we have international visitors, we provide the whole Kyiv experience and take them too these clubs and raves too. For instance, we take people to K41, and afterwards invite our guests and the crew to come to Keller. Which is convenient, as it’s only a 10 minute walk.’
When asked what makes Kyiv’s scene stand out, Olha and Jean-Philippe wholeheartedly agree it’s the energy of the people. ‘Organizing events in Kyiv is amazing because the crowd is very genuine, fresh, but also emotional and sensitive,’ Olha explains.
Jean-Philippe adds to that, ‘That’s what a lot of that come here from other countries, realize. People from the scene here are so genuinely happy to party, and genuinely happy to meet others. In Ukraine people are really sincere when they connect with you, that creates a feeling of home. This plays a big role in the perception of this scene and it shows why so many people tend to come back to Kyiv. We have a lot of friends from Berlin who are meeting everyone here.’
With Drift, the co-founders want to contribute to creating safe spaces. ‘Recently, a good friend of mine from London asked what the difference is between the queer scene and the underground scene in Kyiv,’ Olha says. ‘I feel like the queer scene in Kyiv is a bit more detached from the underground scene. There’s still a lot of work to be done for the queer community to feel safe in the underground scene. With Drift we want to educate on this subject.’
The sound of Drift is one that builds upon a narrative for the entire line-up. ‘Our line-ups are a balance between national and international. We also find it important to create line-ups with equal gender representation. With Drift we find it important to expose our crowd to different genres of electronic music’ Olha says.
‘We’re both very geeky about techno, but we’re into different genres,’ Jean-Philippe adds, ‘Olha is more into trance, hard techno and hardcore. I’d say I’m more into groovy techno like Freddy K and Setaoc Mass. When we look at our line-ups, we meet in the middle of these genres and think about how we can build the narrative for the evening.’
For the future, Drift will collaborate with other international collectives and aims to set up a Kyiv based agency for young and upcoming talent. Jean-Philippe explains, ‘We want to bring local talent and grow with them, keeping Ukrainian values. But also meeting on the ideas and values of intersections. Interracial, I would say. Because Drift is kind of our love baby.’